Right now, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is 'working his magic' at all levels of politics.
These days, Musa’s pluses and minuses are the only talking points.
But Musa being the experienced and cunning election strategist he is, has written the role for himself.
He knows that he is smack in the centre of the war zone and is now selling his own virtues and, mind you, has already won over his party and captured the minds of Umno leaders in Kuala Lumpur and the prime minister himself.
Pakatan Rakyat and all the other wannabe opposition parties in Sabah, meanwhile, are moving in the lanes and bylanes of Sabah highlighting Musa’s vices, weaknesses and lies.
They’re flogging his deceitful ways, his alleged collusion with Umno KL over the mushrooming of illegal immigrants, land grabs, deforestation and billions of ringgit laundered.
They are flogging Umno’s disregard and disrespect for Sabahans and Malaysia Agreement 1963.
But Musa has staunchly identified himself with Sabah as PBS’ Joseph Pairin Kitingan once did with Sabah in the 1985.
(PBS won the election and went on to form the government which collapsed years later following a series of defections reportedly engineered by Umno in KL.)
Musa is taking a leaf off Pairin’s 1985 strategy and raising regional parochialism to new heights by getting the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants to be conducted quickly before the 13th general election and negotiating with the federal government for higher oil royalty for the state.
In fact, Musa is quite confident that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be disclosing an “interesting” figure on a new oil deal, which will likely create shock waves.
Right now, the Musa magic is working across the board.
There are several reasons why Barisan National will do well in Sabah this coming 13th general election despite reports to the contrary.
Musa without any doubt is pro-reforms and a moderate chief minister.
He has continued helping the underprivileged and poor including single mothers and widows, while some received skills training.
There are many other situations where Musa has created new programmes and projects for the poor and the underprivileged.
He has allowed grants for new education institutes, self-financing education bodies and schools.
As a result, indigenous children don’t have to pay for uniforms, shoes and textbooks. Food and milk supplement programmes have also been extended to indigenous children in the interior.
So, when Pakatan argues that Musa’s leadership is not so much identified with the poor and the natives as with the urban, middle class and upwardly mobile voters of small towns, it is quite unbelievable.
Selvarajah Somiah is a geologist and freelance writer. He blogs at selvarajasomiah.wordpress.com